Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

JonBenet Ramsey

Almost twelve years have passed since Dec. 26, 1996, when John Ramsey, a wealthy software executive, found his 6-year-old daughter JonBenet dead in the basement of their Boulder, Colo. home. Eight hours prior, his wife Patsy had found a ransom note demanding $118,000 for their daughter's safe return. No call ever came from a kidnapper. So unraveled the saga of the young beauty queen whose murder has put a cloud over her entire family, the Boulder Police Department and the District Attorney in charge of solving the case. Investigators in Boulder — who were dealing with the city's first murder that year — failed to conduct a proper search of the house and even allowed friends of the family to walk in and out of the crime scene as the family and police waited for a ransom call.

While John's two adult children from a previous marriage were cleared of the murder early on, suspicion remained on the three people who were the only ones known to be home when JonBenet was killed — her 9-year-old brother Burke and her parents. Almost three years after the murder, Burke, now 12, was questioned by a grand jury, but never charged. John and Patsy published The Death of Innocence in 2000 detailing their story even as they remained suspects in the case. In June of 2006, Patsy died of ovarian cancer, just two months before the arrest of John Mark Karr, an American man who had admitted to killing JonBenet, only to have the case dropped against him two weeks later when DNA tests showed he could not have been at the crime scene.

This past summer, prosecutors were finally able to conclude that John and Patsy were not responsible for their daughter's murder, but that DNA points to an "unexplained third party." John Ramsey still retains hope that evidence will track down his daughter's killer and finally rid his family of the stain that continues to make its mark.